Folding Nature by Sarah Burgess

This week has been quite unusual in that it has rained a lot.  And how unusual is it in the west of Scotland to be calling rain unusual?  Anyway, as phase 1 becomes phase 2 and we start tentatively looking towards the future, I decided I should review where I had got to, working through the 19 ways to stay connected with nature during COVID-19 – and I suppose unsurprisingly, given that this is the  14th week since lockdown started there were only a handful of things I’ve not yet tried, which is how this week, I found myself reading about cranes – the bird not the piece of machinery.

One of my school friends taught me to make an origami crane, a very long time ago and it remains the only thing that I can fold easily and without instruction.  I’m the person folding the meeting notes or the sweet wrapper, I find the act of precisely folding and creasing the paper, extremely soothing.  So why cranes?

In Japan, the crane is a mystical creature said to live for a thousand years, and if you fold a crane for every year of its life then you are said to be granted a wish, or good luck, or eternal happiness, depending on which story you believe. 

Wanting to know more about the actual bird, I found the International Crane Foundation online and discovered that cranes are amongst the most endangered species of birds in the world, with eleven of the fifteen species threatened with extinction, because of habitat loss, poisoning and hunting in particular.  However they also state that despite this, cranes continue to unite people throughout the world through their charisma and symbolism of fidelity and longevity.

I love that on their website they include details of how to fold a crane.

It was the link to cranes that made me include origami as a nature based activity, and it lead me to look into why it is so relaxing.  Samuel Tsang author of The Book of Mindful Origami says that an origami project is a chance to be creative and make something tangible; he compares it to a a meditative journey that instills a sense of pride, competence, and accomplishment.   This has been true for me, except for an incident with a fox.  (A paper one, not a real one!)  Focusing on each fold helps free our minds to roam, creating the opportunity to be properly present.  I think that is something a lot of us could do with right now. Battles with a fox aside, creating my wee nature park out of paper has been a lovely project for a wet week, I’ve learnt something about a species I knew nothing  about; I shall continue to fold cranes whenever I find myself with a spare piece of paper and a flat surface and occasionally venture into making something a little more adventurous.

By the way, don’t think that the rain has stopped me from going outside altogether.  There’s a lot to be said for a raincoat and a pair of wellies, and what’s more, you tend to get the park to yourself.  I’m still taking photos too.

Drop me a line at sarah.burgess@vaslan.org.uk